Khwezi Gule: In response to the first question from Chika I would say that my first real engagement with African Contemporary art was through the ill-fated Trans Cape exhibition which had been planned for September 2006 but never quite took place as it had been planned. I was part of a curatorial team that sought to invite about 30 artists to show their work in Cape Town. What some of us didn’t know at the time that we joined the organization Cape Africa Platform that was spearheading this exhibition is that there were insufficient funds to pull it off.
We had invited a number of artists based on the continent including Susan Hefuna, Godfried Donkor and others and many had agreed to participate but when the time came for us to ship the work to South Africa we were told the exhibition has to be postponed. A smaller version of the show eventually took place in March 2007.
At this stage it might be pre-mature to go into detail about what I think had gone wrong with the organizing of the event (I am sure everyone has their own ideas on this) but it did offer me the opportunity to meet a good number of artists and curators in a very short space of time, some of whom I have subsequently had the chance to interact with on other projects.
While I was part of the team that was working towards TransCape, I was actually contracted to the City of Johannesburg as a Curator: Contemporary Collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). The head at the time was Clive Kellner who was spearheading the transformation of the institution in a number of ways and one of the more significant ways was in expanding the collection to include works of African Contemporary Art and with it the acquisition policy of the JAG. Under his stewardship there was also a push towards authoring and hosting exhibitions of contemporary African art. It was during this time through Clive’s initiative and tireless efforts that the JAG hosted Africa Remix (2007) and the exhibition Tresses and Other Projects, a solo exhibition by Meschac Gaba in 2008.